Council Watch #12 – by Richard Johnson
Well council once again put on quite a show at the July 13th council meeting. There were so many issues of concern raised that one does not know where to start.
While I remain impressed with the quality of our town staff, I’m left with the feeling that we may want to change the town we are twinned with to Salem, Mass given the clear and apparent witch hunt that appears to be well underway under the leadership of our Mayor.
The meat of the accusations that have been re-issued under the code of conduct appear at 4:24:00 to 4:39:30 of the tape located at this link:
Rogers Cable LINK: http://www.rogerstv.com/option.asp?lid=237&rid=70&mid=52&gid=69135#38_120_3103
The Integrity Commissioner is paid a maximum of $5,000 per month to a maximum of $60,000 per year. He is also paid a minimum monthly retainer, even when complaints are held in abeyance from August 1 to Dec 1. He also answers questions and educates council where and when required. John Leach agreed to send me the report that was prepared by staff when the IC was hired in order that I might be able to figure out what the monthly retainer is.
The section between 3:32:00 to 3:57:00 of the above noted meeting tape deals with two issues: the cut-off date for filing complaints in around election time moratoriums as well as the fact that council seems to only be focusing on accusations raised by Clr MacEachern (which complaints are supported by Mayor Phyllis Morris, Clr Wendy Geartner & Clr Steve Granger). A complaint that was apparently filed against Clr Granger seems to have fallen off the radar for some reason and amazingly no complaint has ever been submitted against Clr MacEachern as far as I am aware, despite her less than civil e-mails to Clr Wilson and Clr Buck and her actions towards others at the council table from time to time.
At 3:48:50 Evelyn Buck speaks about the code of conduct. The IC’s contract is a twelve month contract that can be terminated with 30 days notice.
While the Integrity Commissioner may in fact be an “independent (arms length) third party” as noted by the Mayor, he can also apparently be fired if he does not rule to the Mayor’s favour, as Mr. Nitkin found out the hard way. The fate of the previous IC can’t escape the notice of the current IC who is currently responsible for inspiring the current council to new levels of integrity. The jury is out as to how successful the new IC has been and how much money is too much money when witnessing the games that we continue to see being played, which games do in fact appear to be highly politically motivated.
Clr Buck states that the previous council “extorted” money and her statement was like throwing bloody meat into a shark tank. Start the tape at 4:07:50 onwards… and onwards to 4:13:00. Buck marches out at 4:10:00
See definition of extortion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion
Extortion: “The term extortion is often used metaphorically to refer to usury or to price-gouging, though neither is legally considered extortion. It is also often used loosely to refer to everyday situations where one person feels indebted against their will, to another, in order to receive an essential service or avoid legal consequences. For example, certain lawsuits, fees for services such as banking, automobile insurance, gasoline prices, and even taxation, have all been labeled “legalized extortion” by people with various social or political beliefs. ”
Even if I may disagree with Clr Buck on any number of issues and / or her choice of language, I still don’t think that the code of conduct and the $50,000 plus that has been spent to date in dealing with councillor Buck is money well spent when we given that not one thin dime to the food bank. This is a poisoned council and it very largely the Mayor’s doing as a result of her approach to public dialog and her clear and apparent manipulation of process.
Here is but one small example from the same meeting in question: The Mayor tried to paint a picture that only a small number of people do all the work, as per her attempt with Clr. MacEachern to get attendance records for in-camera CLOSED meetings made public (see 4:17:00 — 4:24:00) and despite the fact that the Mayor often ignores the input of at least three councillors constantly and she has thwarted their efforts to join committees and advisory groups.
I suspect that the reason that some councilors are less than fully utilised is because they have been ignored and mistreated. I trust that we don’t have to remind anyone that one Councilor (Grace Marsh) felt compelled to resign in frustration. Look at the town’s senior staff employment record for an inkling of how staff must feel under this business culture. This is a vindictive and manipulative council beyond all compare.
Apparently dealing with ethical issues with this group could well become a full-time job at our collective expense. Between the accolades that were showered on staff and committee members by the Mayor and the dealing of the above mentioned code of conduct issues, it is amazing that the above noted meeting was only four and a half hours long. If you feel that this post is far too long, I don’t blame you, but just try watching the entire council meeting.